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Will Smith responds to Academy’s 10-year ban from attending Oscars

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Will Smith accepts his decade-long ban from the Academy Awards. The 53-year-old Best Actor winner responded Friday after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors decided to ban him from Oscars ceremonies and other Academy events for the next 10 years after he struck Chris Rock onstage during last month’s award show.

“I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” Smith said in a statement.

The Academy determined that “for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards,” per a letter sent by Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson and obtained by PEOPLE.

“The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage,” they wrote.

“During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers, and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented,” they added.

Rubin and Hudson went on to address Rock, 57, and Oscars hosts Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall. “We want to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances. We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast,” they said.

Smith has issued a public apology to Rock and he also formally resigned from the Academy a week ago.

“I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy,” he said in a statement last Friday, April 1.

He added, “I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film.” Concluding, he announced his departure from the Academy: “So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate. Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”

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‘God of War’ live-action TV series ordered at Amazon

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A live-action adaptation of PlayStation’s hit video game franchise ‘God of War’ has been ordered to series at Amazon’s Prime Video, with ‘Wheel of Time’ boss Rafe Judkins set as showrunner. Based on the massively popular 2018 video game, the show follows Kratos, the God of War, who, after exiling himself from his blood-soaked past in ancient Greece, hangs up his weapons forever in the Norse realm of Midgard, per Amazon’s description. When his beloved wife dies, Kratos sets off on a dangerous journey with his estranged son Atreus to spread her ashes from the highest peak — his wife’s final wish. Kratos soon realizes the journey is an epic quest in disguise, one which will test the bonds between father and son, and force Kratos to battle new gods and monsters for the fate of the world.

“‘God of War’ is a compelling, character-driven franchise that we believe will captivate our global customers as much with its expansive and immersive worlds as its rich storytelling,” Vernon Sanders, head of global television at Amazon Studios, said. “We are honored to share in the adventure of exploring the God of War mythology in such a momentous way with Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, and Santa Monica Studio.”

The ‘God of War’ TV series marks the latest show based on a video game that is either in the works or in production, including Amazon’s ‘Fallout’ adaptation from ‘Westworld’ creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ (based on another PlayStation property), Paramount+’s ‘Halo’, the Anthony Mackie-led ‘Twisted Metal’ at Peacock, among others.

“We are so proud and excited to be working with our friends at Amazon Studios and our partners at PlayStation Productions to adapt this beautiful and heart-breaking game into a premium live-action series,” Katherine Pope, president of Sony Pictures Television Studios, said.”

A sequel to the 2018 ‘God of War’ game, titled ‘God of War: Ragnarok’, was just released last month. At last week’s Game Awards, it won for best narrative, action/adventure game, score/music, audio design, performance for Kratos actor Christopher Judge and innovation in accessibility.

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‘The Crown’ officially suspends Season 6 production after Queen’s death

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It has been confirmed that Netflix hit show ‘The Crown’ suspended production on Friday in honour of the Queen’s death. It is currently in the middle of shooting its sixth and reportedly final season. “As a mark of respect, filming on ‘The Crown’ was suspended today,” a Netflix source confirmed. “Filming will also be suspended on the day of Her Majesty The Queen’s funeral.”

‘The Crown’ is about Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped it. The monarch, who ascended the throne in 1952, was the world’s oldest reigning monarch at age 96. She died surrounded by her family at Balmoral, her palace in the Scottish Highlands, the family announced on Thursday. Her eldest son, King Charles III, succeeds her.

Peter Morgan, writer of the Emmy-winning drama, said that the series is “a love letter to her.”

Her death comes ahead of Season 5 of the Netflix show, which is set to premiere in November and feature a new cast. Imelda Staunton will play Queen Elizabeth, Jonathan Pryce will portray Prince Philip, Dominic West will star as Prince Charles and Elizabeth Debicki stars at Princess Diana. Olivia Williams has been cast as Camilla Parker Bowles and Jonny Lee Miller will appear as Prime Minister John Major.

Although the details have been kept quiet, the season will seemingly focus on the 1990s, leading up to Diana’s death in 1997. Season 6 recently cast 16-year-old Rufus Kampa as Prince Harry and 21-year-old Ed McVey as Prince William, hinting that the season will explore the aftermath of Diana’s death and the boys’ lives in the early 2000s.

Although Queen Elizabeth II never spoke publicly about ‘The Crown’, Claire Foy, who played her in 2016’s first season of the show, stated one year later that she “would hate the idea of her watching it.”

“When you’re playing a real person, you never want to be ghoulish,” she told Town & Country at the time. “I don’t want to pick apart a person. I want to invent someone. So, I would hate for her to watch it and think I overdramatized anything.”

Following the death, Peter Morgan, writer of the Emmy-winning drama, said that the series is “a love letter to her.” He wrote that “[The Crown] is a love letter to her and I’ve nothing to add for now, just silence and respect. I expect we will stop filming out of respect too.”

Netflix have long had plans in place should Queen Elizabeth die during its run.

‘The Crown’ has had three actresses who have portrayed the Queen: Foy, Olivia Colman, and Imelda Staunton, whose reign is due to start on Netflix in November.

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Racist viewers happy with dragon flying, but not a rich black guy – Steve Toussaint

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‘House of the Dragon’ star Steve Toussaint, who plays Lord Corlys Velaryon a.k.a. “The Sea Snake” on the series, slammed viewers of the ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel who took issue with his casting.

“It seems to be very hard for people to swallow,” Toussaint said in an interview with Men’s Health. “They are happy with a dragon flying. They’re happy with white hair and violet-coloured eyes, but a rich Black guy? That’s beyond the pale.”

While Lord Corlys is never explicitly described as white in George R. R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood,” from which ‘House of the Dragon’ is adapted, many imagined the character to be fair-skinned because his ancestors are Valyrian and his hair is described in the book as “Targaryen white-blonde.”

However, as Toussaint notes, those who feel his casting is unrealistic have no problem buying into the existence of dragons and magic — not to mention that screen adaptations often stray from matching exact character descriptions in the source material.

“What has been wonderful is for every toxic person that has somehow found their way into my timeline, there have been so many others who have been so supportive and been like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t wait, this is going to be great!’” Toussaint added. “Even when we were doing certain scenes, there would be supporting artists who would come up and go, ‘It’s great to have this representation.’”

The first episode of ‘House of the Dragon’ dazzled with the biggest series premiere in HBO’s history last Sunday, drawing nearly 10 million viewers.

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